Justin Thorpe calls it the toughest lesson he's ever learned.
Thorpe, James Madison's redshirt freshman quarterback, fumbled away the Dukes' chance to upset No. 1 Richmond this past Saturday. His turnover near the goal line with a minute to play clinched the Spiders' 21-17 win at Bridgeforth Stadium.
"I'm doing pretty good," Thorpe said Tuesday at practice. "I made a mistake. No excuses, I should have had the ball a little bit tighter. I can only move forward after this, and prepare for Villanova with all I've got."
"I think the good thing is we get to play the next weekend, unlike the big fumble at Applachian State two years ago, three years ago. Whenever it was," coach Mickey Matthews said.
Matthews was referring to then-freshman running back Jamal Sullivan's game-changing fumble at the nine with 20 seconds to play in JMU's 2007 FCS playoff game against the Mountaineers. The Dukes also lost that game, 28-27.
"Jamal had to hear about it for seven, eight months," said Matthews, "whereas Justin gets to get back on the field and play."
In addition to losing the game to Richmond, JMU also lost junior quarterback Drew Dudzik to a broken foot. Dudzik and Thorpe had been splitting time throughout the season, but Thorpe is now the Dukes' undisputed starter.
Both the quarterback and his coach agree that Thorpe will bounce back from Saturday's tough learning experience.
"It's part of football. It's part of life," Matthews said. "He's got to grow up, and we'll be fine."
"But all my life I've had to learn lessons, and I've never learned the same lesson twice," said Thorpe. "So I'm just going to move forward, and I'll never let it happen again."